Dear parent who is feeling down trodden. Dear parent who is overwhelmed and not sure you can go on. Dear parent who has lost a sense of yourself and given up on trying to find it again. Dear parent who didn’t think having kids would be this hard, who thought your kids would love you back a little more. Dear grandparent who wasn’t planning on being a parent again. Dear parent who is tired of hearing how wonderful autism is and how special it makes people and that there will be special jobs especially suited for autism someday. In the future. Someday.
Dear parent who doesn’t want to see perfect children and perfect families and perfect birthday parties on Facebook anymore. Dear parent who left a full grocery cart at the store today because- well because that’s what you do sometimes. Dear parent who is tired of answering questions about why your child isn’t potty-trained, walking, talking, playing with the other kids, going to school, finishing school, or playing in the band.
Dear parent: You should know you are not alone. There are a great many parents out there who have similar struggles, doubts, and hard times. You are not the only one who has quietly wished they had not had children at all. You are not alone. The problem is simply, you are alone.
There is great strength and energy in community. Strength in doing something you typically do alone, with other people. We as humans are at our best when we are knit together with others. Having a child with special needs often leads parents to isolate, withdraw, and have very little community around them. After all, nobody would understand.
That is the risk. Maybe my child and family really are different. Maybe nobody else thinks the things I do. We let that fear keep us from seeking out others, from putting ourselves and our family out there for others to see.
Oh dear parent, you are not alone. There are many others like you who will benefit from your story and support as much as you will benefit from theirs. This life is not meant to be done on your own and you only add suffering to your pain when you go it alone.
This is your call to find community. To have an imperfect birthday party. To post a real picture on Instagram. To commit to a walk or a talk or a coffee even if it needs to happen on your kitchen floor. What’s that you say? Your house is dirty? You are not alone dear parent, you are not alone.
There are others looking for you. Don’t let the excuses your mind will create stop you from reaching out and finding the others who should be in your community.